Interview (Dr. Florian Wessendorf)

Dr. Florian Wessendorf,
General Manager at Solar Promotion International GmbH

“What kind of success has Solar Promotion International GmbH seen with Intersolar India event over the last 10 years?”

Intersolar’s first India event was inaugurated in 2009. The Indian market then was minuscule with MNRE’s Home Lighting programs primarily driving the market and the European market, particularly the German market providing export opportunities to few manufacturers.It was also in 2009, India’s solar journey began with the launch of the 5Year/500 MW Gujarat Solar policy followed by the Federal Government’s National Solar Mission targeting 20 GW by 2021.

Many global companies viewed India as a promising market and began their foray and the first large power plant was built in Charanka in Gujarat 2010. In 2015, Indian government enhanced the NSM target five folds to 100 GW which created excitement in the market.

With many policy announcements and course corrections and active participation of the industry, the installed solar capacity rose from a mere 400 MW in 2010 to nearly 25 GW this year. India’s place in the market also changed from being one among the“Rest of the World”to the 3rd largest global market in the world.

In the ten years, Intersolar has been an integral part of the Indian growth story. The Exhibition provided a platform to overseas and domestic companies to meet and finalize partnerships, to new and established companies to show case their latest products and services and reach out to new customers and expand their footprint,to bring together the buyer-seller community and to provide a meeting point for all stakeholders.

The accompanying conference provided opportunities to industry professionals to meet national and international experts, policy makers and others to get new insights and ideas, understand policies, new financing and business models, new growth areas and technology advancements. A comprehensive training program, for those seeking entry into the PV business,also formed a part of the event. Intersolar India conference has earned high reputation for the carefully chosen topics, for the expert speakers brought in and for the overall quality.

We are indeed very proud of the enormous goodwill and support we have received from exhibitors, sponsors, delegates, visitors, leading national and international institutions and the governments. It has helped us to continuously enhance the quality of the event and the range of benefits offered. We look forward to another exciting decade of opportunity to work with the industry to promote its interest and to script an even more exciting story of India leading the solar-transition in the world.

“India readers would be keen to know what new can be expected at the 10th edition of Intersolar India.”

The 10th edition of Intersolar is significant in that it will be held in Bangalore, variedly known as the Knowledge capital, IT Capital, Startup Capital and the Silicon Valley of India. The city has the distinction of seeding the solar industry in the country in the early nineties with many small enterprises offering domestic hot water systems. Many of these enterprises diversified and have grown to become leaders in the PV industry.

Of the 29 Indian states, the four southern states Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Tamil Nadu, together account for 60% of the total installed PV capacity and have been the engine of Indian PV growth. To further expand their reach to this burgeoning southern market in particular and to the rest of the country, many national and international solar companies would be showcasing their products and solutions.In an exclusive pavilion, startups across the nation, would present and explain their innovative offerings. In the co-located conference, Global and Indian experts would share their insights in emerging areas like EV, Agro-PV, EES and Floating Solar besides the regular topics. Parallel track events on specific topics like Manufacturing,Quality and Standards and Skill Development, organized in collaboration with IESA / NISE/ ISA / SECI-Fraunhofer Institute/ SCGJ –NSDC will held as part of the conference.

To expose the budding graduates to the exciting opportunities in solar, an interactive“Study Program” in which successful entrepreneurs will share their stories and advise the students has been included. For those “ignited” students, a 70% deep discount is being offered on conference ticket. An added attraction this year for students is the bringing together of the Indian and African students under the “1st India Africa Youth Energy Symposium (IAYES)”

Intersolar India’s Silver Jubilee event has been structured to provide multiple offerings to meet the overall expectations of all stakeholders.

“In a more consolidated and competitive Indian solar market, how is Intersolar event helping companies reach out to clients?”

The industry as a whole is delighted at their contribution to the remarkable PV growth in India. However there is a deep concern that the business operations are under ever growing stress due to policy uncertainties, non-uniform state policies, conflicting interpretation of tax structures, interconnection issues, exchange rate volatility, difficulty in securing finance and more.They need to be resolved in good speed over sustained interactions among all stakeholders.

In the last two years, however, an interesting and exciting market, not dependent on government sops is taking roots: the Commercial and Industrial Rooftop soar. C&I establishments have found enormous savings in their energy costs going in for long term PPAs with developers who install and maintain rooftop solar in their premises, at their own cost.

Companies who operate in India have immense experience and they are well placed to expand operations in global market. With the establishment of ISA and India providing leadership, Indian companies have huge opportunities to grow and also contribute to the nation’s solar/social goals.

Newer and very exciting opportunities are emerging with the greater convergence of Solar, EV and EES technologies. Intersolar, as a global event is also evolving to align with the impending energy revolution that would transform human life as never before. The event now comes with three distinct sections appropriately named EES, Power to Drive and Empower.
To be successful in the highly competitive, challenging PV market, efforts on multiple fronts are required: to continuously reach out to potential customers across wide geography and to educate them on the benefits, to develop and nurture reliable technical, financial, supply chain partners and regulatory partners, hiring and retaining expert engineers, managers and highly skilled technicians in a job market that is dynamic and scarce on talent.

Intersolar is helping Indian companies to reach out to customers not only in India but also in the growing international market. Many Indian companies are already taking advantage of the global Intersolar membership program and exhibit in other Intersolar events in Europe, North and South America and Middle East to reach out to customers in those regions. It is also worthwhile mentioning that the Intersolar Global Award has attracted several entries from India and many projects qualified to participate in the final round. Few among them even won the coveted Intersolar Global Award giving them global visibility.

The parallel track events organized in collaboration with various key organizations help industries further understand their operations and take advantage of their various programs and grow their business.

Intersolar, having organized nearly 125 global events over the last 27 years across various regions, has unmatched understanding of the promotional needs of the Industry. All the global events are continuously upgraded to meet the needs and expectations of all stakeholders.

We are indeed delighted in serving the Indian PV companies to grow global and also to further contribute to the nation’s ambition to be a leader in the Solar World.

“How important is the upcoming niche of Electric Vehicles and energy storage for the Indian solar industry?”

With oil import bills expected to cross a whopping $100 billion this year and pollution levels in many cities rising to alarming levels, the need for EV transition is nowhere as urgent as in India. In the recently held mobility summit the Prime Minister stated that Clean Mobility Powered by Clean Energy would be India’s Weapon to Combat Climate Change and made clear the government’s intention. Driven by Government support, India would soon emerge as one of the largest EV markets in the world. Under this scenario, the demand for charging infrastructure powered by clean solar energy would provide a great opportunity to the solar industry.

In India, the installed RE capacity constitutes 20% of the total and in states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu RE component is far more and is rising. Greater integration of infirm RE with the grid would render its management more difficult. EES integration would help manage the instability better.

EES and EV thus are emerging new opportunities. Intersolar India with the EES, Power 2 Drive and Empower sections provide the right platform to explore and build new businesses in these emerging segments.

“It will be interesting to learn how Solar Promotion International GmbH is promoting skill development through the Intersolar events”

The solar sector is growing rapidly and the demand for trained manpower across various functions is rising globally. According to the latest IRENA report Renewable Energy and Jobs 2018 Review, Solar sector employs 3.7 million people around the world of which 16 million are employed in India. With Indian PV set for accelerated growth, demand for well-trained manpower would also grow.

Recognizing the need for trained manpower, the Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) has developed 20 qualification packs for various occupations in PV, including Design, O&M, Project Management, Installation and Business Development. It also includes the very successful Suryamitra PV Installer program. In this 90 day program, with free boarding and lodging facilities extended, a good of hands-on and classroom training are provided.

Intersolar India has been hosting an exclusive SCGJ session to disseminate information on their skill development programs and to discuss problems industry faces in getting skilled manpower. The platform also is used to recognize and award training institutions and individuals who made significant contributions in developing skills.

Intersolar India also has been organizing its own “Study Program” aimed at providing graduating students an opportunity to learn from the success stories of young entrepreneurs and to acquaint themselves with the career and higher study opportunities in solar. The India Africa Youth Energy Symposium, to be held this year would include discussion on providing skill development training to students in Africa. A two day basic training in PV for budding entrepreneurs is a regular feature in the event.

Interview 20/12/2018 by Moulin
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